Yes. California Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill 411 in 2015, clarifying that a person may lawfully record police officers in public or wherever else they have the right to be. Taking pictures, audio recordings, and video recordings are all examples of this. However, it is still an offense under California law to intentionally conceal such recordings.
Police officers have the same rights as other citizens when it comes to filming them. An officer cannot stop you from filming them performing their duties and an officer cannot punish you for filming them either. However, an officer can issue you a ticket if they believe that your video footage violates some law or regulation. For example, taking photos or video recordings inside a police station without permission could be considered a crime.
Police officers also have the right not to be filmed. If an officer believes that their image will be distorted by the camera lens, they have the right to ask you not to take their photo. If an officer feels uncomfortable with your presence, even if you aren't taking photographs or videotaping them, they can tell you to leave the area. Police officers work difficult jobs that not everyone would want to do, but that doesn't mean that they are allowed to abuse their power. All citizens have the right to film police officers, whether they like it or not.
You have the right under the First Amendment to videotape the police. Individuals have the right to film police officers, according to federal courts and the Justice Department. This privilege has been directly recognized by federal appellate courts in the First, Third, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits. The Second Circuit has suggested in a case that it might recognize this right as well.
The right to record police officers is important because it allows observers to document police misconduct that might not be reported otherwise. Video recordings provide evidence of police abuse that cannot be ignored or dismissed. They also provide evidence of police conduct that may be used in future lawsuits or investigations. Finally, filming police officers acts as a deterrent against future misconduct by making it clear to officers that their activities are being monitored.
Recording police officers is not only legal, but encouraged. Many police departments have formal or informal policies allowing for or even promoting recording of officer activity by citizens. These policies aim to ensure that officers are held accountable for their actions while reducing the risk of false allegations or complaints.
When recording police officers, please remember to use caution not to interfere with their duties. Police officers must be able to perform their jobs without being distracted by photographers who may be trying to capture images for publication at a later time.
If you are asked by an officer to stop recording, then do so.
Under specific instances and conditions, the state of California allows civilians to videotape police personnel. Citizens may record or videotape police officers while they are performing their official responsibilities, as long as the individual filming does not interfere with the officer's capacity to fulfill their duties. The California Public Records Act requires that records of police activity be made available to the public. Therefore, if an officer makes an arrest or conducts any kind of search, they must allow anyone who is present at the time of the event to record it.
Citizens who record police activities believe that this will increase transparency and help hold law enforcement officials accountable for their actions. However, some police departments have tried to prevent these recordings by issuing tickets or making arrests for illegally recording officers in the performance of their duties.
Recording officers without consenting individuals present would be a violation of the California Penal Code section 647(c). This code section states that "every person who films or photographs another person engaged in sexual conduct or in any other act within the privacy of one's home or office, is guilty of invasion of personal privacy." Invading private space like this can be punished by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or one year in jail.
However, under certain circumstances, filming or photographing officers would be legal.